Sea Turtles Are Forced to Swim Hundreds of Miles for Scarce Food

Sea Turtles Are Forced to Swim Hundreds of Miles for Scarce Food

Turtles continue to struggle in the world’s oceans as research finds they are being forced to travel almost twice as far as normal to reach their feeding grounds.

Greenpeace researchers fitted satellite trackers to ten female leatherback turtles in French Guiana to follow their movements as they ventured for food.

Some made it as far as Canada and France in search of suitable feeding grounds, but one of the turtles tragically died after getting caught in a fishing net.

Called Frida, she only made it as far as Suriname – 120km away – before becoming entangled and drowning.

Her tale is echoed in a new short film released by Greenpeace in partnership with Aardman, the award-winning creators of Wallace & Gromit.

Turtle Journey, a two-minute long film, follows the story of a turtle family and is voiced by Oscar winners Olivia Colman and Dame Helen Mirren.

Leatherback turtles migrate north after nesting to reach cooler waters where jellyfish, their prey, are more abundant.

As the oceans warm and currents change, sea turtles are being forced to travel greater distances to find these abundant hunting grounds.

The vast distances the turtles were forced to travel indicates the turtles are forced to adapt to cope with rapidly rising ocean temperatures and changing currents.

These are driven by climate change and is forcing the turtles to venture further away from their breeding grounds than ever before.

Wasting this energy to find food will likely result in fewer eggs being laid every season, inflicting more damage on an already dwindling population.

The number of eggs laid by sea turtles on beaches in French Guiana is approximately 100 times smaller now than it was in the 1990s.

Today, there are often fewer than 200 nests per season, compared to 50,000 in the 1990s, Greenpeace claims.


Will McCallum of Greenpeace’s Protect the Oceans campaign, said: ‘Sea turtles survived the extinction of the dinosaurs, but they might not survive us.

‘Human activity has put such severe pressure on sea turtle populations around the world that six out of the seven species of sea turtle are threatened with extinction, and without urgent action the situation will only get worse.

‘The death of one out of the ten turtles we tracked just 120km from her nesting ground after being caught in a discarded fishing net is a stark and tangible reminder of the damage being caused to the oceans by humans.’

The damning report was released by Greenpeace alongside the short film Turtle Journey.

In it, a family of leather-back turtles venture through the oceans before catasytrtophe strikes.

Oscar-winning actresses Helen Mirren and Olivia Colman voiced two of the characters and have called for action to help save Earth’s threatened marine life.

Olivia Colman, voicing the turtle family’s mother, said: ‘We’re taking [home] away from turtles, whales, penguins and so many other incredible animals.

‘Most of us instinctively love the oceans and care about the amazing marine life that lives there, but far fewer people know how much pressure they are under.

‘If we don’t act now we risk causing irreversible harm to our oceans and losing species for good.’

Her call to arms was echoed by Dame Helen Mirren, who said she was ‘saddened’ by the destruction caused by her generation.

‘We have a chance to do something now and leave a legacy of properly protected oceans to all the people who come after us,’ Dame Helen adds.

‘We can’t bring back what we’ve already lost, but we can protect what we still have. I hope this film will help to make more people realise the ocean is worth protecting, and inspires us to act before it’s too late.’

Greenpeace is campaigning for an international treaty to give marine life dedicated spaces away from human interference.

Mr McCullum said: ‘We must protect our oceans with a network of sanctuaries where turtles and other animals are safe to breed, grow old and feed.

‘To do this we need a strong new Global Ocean Treaty to be agreed at the United Nations this year.’

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